Ideas for parents – How to help your children observe Lent

Method 2 - Teaching Lenten Practices


Explain Fasting

During Lent, Christians “fast” in various ways to connect with and honor Jesus, who fasted for forty days in the desert. Note that during Lent, “fasting” may not always involve food. There are other ways to practice sacrifice and strive for closeness with God. You don’t have to expect your child to make a huge, symbolic sacrifice for forty days. But you can certainly teach the concept and encourage your child to try it, perhaps by giving up sweets or video games.

This period of fasting is also a good time to show solidarity with people who do not have enough food. Take your child with you to donate to a food bank or serve meals at a shelter.

For Roman Catholic children, the rules for fasting (before age 18) and meat abstinence (before age 14) typically don’t apply, but you, as the parent, may practice that with your children.


Method 1 - Describing Key Days During Lent


Explain Ash Wednesday

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, which, for many believers, includes a symbolic drawing of a cross with ashes on the forehead. The ashes are meant to remind everyone of human mortality (“remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”), but it’s not necessary to push this idea too forcefully on young children. Be matter-of-fact about the tradition - if it helps, talk less about death and more about the cross and it’s meaning.